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Zoellick pushes Middle East economic reforms

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Middle Eastern countries should seize the moment to institute major market-oriented reforms as they rebuild their economies and adjust to the political shifts transforming the region, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said in a Washington speech Wednesday.

Mr. Zoellick said the Middle East countries should look to remove impediments to entrepreneurism by fostering social responsibility, transparency and greater citizen involvement.

"You can't have successful development without good governance and the participation of their citizens," he said in what World Bank officials had billed as a major policy address.

"There are many roads to prosperity," he added, "but one must be taken. Inaction leads nowhere."

Speaking ahead of this month's annual World Bank meeting in Washington, Mr. Zoellick said economies in the region face a short-term challenge of creating new jobs while always keeping in mind the need for longer-term reforms.

"Quick wins are by their nature short term. But the Middle East faces a long-term employment problem," Mr. Zoellick said, warning that unemployment in the region is likely to remain high in the near term.

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